Studio Gang competing to design Global Terminal and Concourse at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport

Chicago's O'Hare Airport

The City of Chicago unveiled the finalists an international competition to design the first global alliance terminal in the United States. Studio ORD, a collaborative effort led by Studio Gang in partnership with Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB), Corgan, Milhouse Engineering and Construction, and STL Architects, presents a design for a new Global Terminal and Global Concourse that celebrates Chicago’s history as a city shaped by lines of movement and extends that legacy for the 21st century.

Like the confluence of the Chicago River, the design’s converging three branches create a central hub that establishes a vibrant new neighborhood in the heart of O’Hare’s campus. Curving to increase efficiency, wayfinding, and connectivity, the tripartite form merges terminal and concourse into a single building. At the branches’ confluence, a dramatic Oculus welcomes visitors under a six-pointed glass skylight whose geometry references the Chicago flag. When seen from above, the building greets passengers with a easily recognizably Chicago icon: the city’s “Y symbol,” or Municipal Device, that represents the branching Chicago River.

“Every aspect of the design is focused on creating a uniquely Chicago experience,” said Jeanne Gang, Founding Principal of Studio Gang and Lead Designer of Studio ORD. “It embodies the city’s fundamental geographic asset: a place of convergence of paths of movement both natural and manmade. Our design creates a new Chicago neighborhood that reflects the culture, traditions, and diversity of the city. Its exposed structure, interior streets, and bustling activity express our city’s trajectory as a center of movement, exchange, and growth.”

Beneath the Oculus, a vibrant new neighborhood unfolds around an expansive Central Green that can support pop-up events, music, and informal gathering. The plantings extends through the terminal’s three branches, framing boulevards of restaurants, shops, and retail that together evoke a lively Chicago street. Surrounding the Oculus, a pleated roof of long-span steel trusses clad in wood maximizes natural daylight and energy efficiency. The roof is supported by Y-shaped columns spaced over 100 feet apart that distribute the structural load to maximize open circulation and ensure flexibility to accommodate change over the terminal’s lifespan.

A light-filled Mezzanine above the concourse houses ticketing and security for departing passengers. Culminating in a dramatic Overlook, the Mezzanine offers expansive views of the airfield beyond and of the neighborhood and gates below, helping passengers orient themselves and heightening the excitement of travel. “The O’Hare Global Terminal and Concourse will be visitors’ first experience of Chicago,” said Gang, “so it was vital that our design reflect our city’s diversity, creativity, and status as a contemporary, economically strong, global city.”Source and images Courtesy of Studio Gang.

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